Are you a student contemplating buying a new printer? Well, that’s a smart decision. You can rest assured that with a good printer, you can conveniently and affordably print your school projects, flyers, photos, and even make some extra cash doing it for your fellow students.
To make that critical decision on which model to buy can be not only daunting and intimidating but also tedious and unnerving. Several technical things need to be taken into consideration to ensure that you choose a printer that will adequately address your study needs and preferences. This can be tiring and overwhelming. So, if you don’t have the time to understand all the complex, dull and intricate jargon of printers but still want to make an informed decision, this buyers guide and review is made for you.
Best printers for college students at a glance
- Brother HL-L2340DW
- Hewlett-Packard ENVY
- Samsung SL-M2026W
- Epson Expression Home XP-32
- HP Laser Multifunction Printer
- Epson EcoTank refillable 3-in-1 inkjet printer
- Our top pick: HP OfficeJet
- Epson 4-in-1 printer
- Canon PIXMA
We reviewed the most popular, affordable, efficient, and yet cutting edge printers every student should consider when looking for a printer. Chances are, one of these benchmark models is tailor-made to satisfy all your needs and preferences.
1. Brother HL-L2340DW
If you are looking for an affordable but fast printer and are content with a black and white print result, the Brother HL-L2340DW might be the one for you. It is a monochrome laser printer designed and manufactured by Brother, a company that has stood the test of time and passed.
On the table, it brings an impressive print speed of 26 / pages per minute and clean and excellent print quality. For extra dollars, you can get the identical model but with a faster print speed of 30 pages/minute. However, this is not ideal for students but is quite interesting for professional use, mainly because of the large paper cassette, which holds 250 sheets.
You will be impressed by its automatic duplex printing capability, which allows even large quantities of documents to be processed on both sides and quickly. This not only saves paper but also significantly reduces the load when printing documents with many pages in terms of weight and volume. Since the device can print only black and white, it is particularly suitable for use as a document printer in the office or home use, as well as for students.
With a resolution of 2,400 x 600 dpi, even prints with many shades of gray are clean and easily recognizable, and even the conversion of color graphics produces acceptable black and white results. The printer can be put into operation via USB or WLAN, which means that it can be controlled easily via various channels iPrint, AirPrint, and Cloud Print.
2. Hewlett-Packard ENVY 4520
If you love printing photos as much as you like storing them on your smartphone or laptop, this artistic piece of engineering is ideal for you. Moreover, the Hewlett-Packard ENVY will come in handy if your line of study involves a lot of photos, pictures, and images. In other words, it is optimized for photo printing. I mean, besides other cutting edge features, it comes with an impressive 5.5cm mono display perfect for processing photos.
Overall, the slim design is as appealing as the well-functioning Randlos photo printing function. Compared to models in a similar price range, the ENVY 4520 inkjet printer prints up to 6 pages per minute in color (depending on the resolution) which is relatively fast while it processes black and white prints at 9.5 pages per minute, still a quite decent speed for an inkjet printer. The printer has a display panel and can, therefore, be easily operated without a PC for scans or copies. The ability to print photos with a resolution of up to 4,800 x 1,200 dpi will also impress students who are into photos.
The wireless control works very reliably and fast. This makes it possible for you to send and print photos and documents directly to the printer without wire connections.
3. Samsung SL-M2026W / SEE XPRESS
If you swear by the brand Samsung, this particular model has a lot to offer. The Samsung SL-M2026W distinguishes itself from the competition with a good price-performance ratio, a good print quality, and a fast speed. I mean, with 1,200 x 1,200 dpi, and a speed of 20 pages per minute, it is ideal for any student looking for a simple printer without having to compromise on print quality and speed.
The laser printer also has a 150-sheet capacity paper cassette, making it easy to use in your apartment or room. Duplex printing is also on board, but only manually, meaning that each page must be inserted twice. Besides, the software is simple and clear to understand and use, while mobile printing options are also crisp and easy to connect. At only 4 kilograms, the printer is very light and compactly built, which makes it ideal for placing on your desk and still saving space.
Overall, the SL-M2026W from Samsung is a cheap compact black and white laser printer with good print resolution and value for money.
4. Epson Expression Home XP-332
If you can’t sacrifice functionality but don’t have the money to spend on an expensive multifunctional printer, why not consider the Epson Expression Home XP-32? Besides being affordable, it comes with most of the features in high-end printers. To be precise, this inkjet multifunction printer prints with a decent resolution of 5,760 x 1,440 dpi at an impressive speed of 15 pages in color and 33 pages in black and white per minute.
The LCD-Touch-Display also makes it easy and effortless to operate the printer. This makes it possible to print photos, documents, and photocopy without having a laptop or desktop.
If you are looking for a cheap multifunctional model, the Epson XP-332 is certainly a worthy contender.
5. HP Color LaserJet Pro M281FDW Laser Printer
Looking for high performance? Well, the HP Laser Multifunction Printer is a powerful 4-in-1 color printer with JetIntelligence technology. It also supports a wide array of wireless functions, including duplexing, Google Cloudprint, Apple AirPrint, and HP ePrint.
With the 250-sheet drawer, the multifunction printer offers a large volume of sheets. Its printing speeds of 21 pages per minute for black-and-white and color also speaks volume for this high-performance printer from HP. Duplex printing is also no problem for the color laser printer. The results that the printer delivers are of high quality, and the memory is perfectly fine at 256 megabytes, which allows fast and quality print results.
Operating the printer is also very easy via the intuitive touchscreen. All the functions of the printer can be controlled via the display. The monthly recommended print volume of the HP laser printer is between 150 and 2,500 pages, with a maximum printable volume of 40,000 pages per month.
Another advantage that the color laser printer brings is the four individual LaserJet toner cartridges: Black, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. These are already preinstalled when the printer is shipped. In terms of price, HP’s multifunctional printer is one of the more expensive printers in our comparison but worth every penny if your heart melts for performance.
It is also equipped with HP’s ePrint feature. This means you can print your photos and documents remotely. And with it, you do not need to connect your computer or smartphone via a cable to the printer, but simply issue commands via e-mail or an app. The free ePrint app helps you print from your phone.
6. Epson EcoTank Inkjet Printer with Refill Function
Looking for a multifunctional printer with all the new features and capabilities? If so, this model has a lot to be desired and admired. The Epson EcoTank refillable 3-in-1 inkjet printer gives you a very special advantage that sets this printer apart from other competitors.
The printer is equipped with a large, refillable ink tank. A special container collects the remaining ink and can be replaced if necessary. When the ink runs out, you do not need to replace ink cartridges, just refill the appropriate container.
What exactly is the Epson ink tank technology? This system is an interesting alternative to traditional ink cartridges. Unlike traditional printers, it has four built-in tanks that you fill with ink. The advantage lies in a higher capacity of the tanks compared to conventional cartridges. Thanks to this design, you not only save money but also protect the environment. Also, it comes with ink for three years, which means printing up to 14,000 pages in black and white and about 11,200 pages in color.
The refillable ink tank means that the printing costs are extremely low. According to the manufacturer, you can reduce printing costs by 74 percent. The paper tray holds up to 150 sheets, while the print feeder is designed for 35 sheets. Epson gives 12 months warranty on this printer. As a 3-in-1 printer, the Epson can print, copy and scan – this device does not have a fax function.
Duplex printing and borderless printing also feature that the Epson inkjet printer brings. Thanks to the Ethernet interface, you can integrate the printer into the network. Nevertheless, WiFi and WiFi Direct offer faster printing with your smartphone or tablet.
7. The HP OfficeJet 3831 All-in-One Printer
The HP OfficeJet is a multifunction printer that provides printing, copying, scanning, and faxing capabilities. This inkjet printer can, therefore, be used in a multifunctional manner and can serve well for study and office purposes.
With HP Wireless Direct technology, it is possible to print directly from your smartphone or tablet. The touch display allows a user-friendly operation and impresses with a clear menu control.
With HP Instant Ink, you can save up to 70 percent on ink costs and eliminate ink bottlenecks. The printer automatically orders the necessary ink cartridges once they are worn-out and are delivered directly to your home. This functionality is available free of charge for the first three months after purchasing the multifunction printer.
With HP Instant Ink, you do not have to pay an annual fee, and you can change or cancel your service plan at any time at no additional charge. A clear advantage of this system is the ability to print up to 15 pages per month for free.
The print speed is 8.5 pages per minute for black and white printing and six pages per minute for color printing. Thus, this multifunction printer is not quite as powerful as the previous laser printer from HP. But the HP OfficeJet is reasonably priced and one of the cheapest printers in our comparison.
8. Epson WorkForce WF-2630WF Inkjet Printer
The Epson 4-in-1 printer is a device for printing, copying, scanning, and faxing. With a print speed of 18 pages per minute in color and 34 pages in black and white, the printer is quite fast and powerful.
According to the manufacturer, this model qualifies for the company’s program, ReadyInk. The inkjet cartridge ReadyInk delivery system is one of many printer-client loyalty programs.
After a one-time registration, you will report your average estimated need for ink cartridges and automatically receive a new shipment. The subscription can be canceled at any time.
The print volume recommended by Epson is 3,000 pages per month. The ink cartridges are individually interchangeable, so the printing costs are low.
Connectivity options such as WiFi and WiFi Direct make the Epson printer a wireless printer that does not need a router. The automatic document feeder, for example, for copying, scanning, or faxing of printed matter or images, is designed for 30 pages. At the same time, the printer is operated via the 5.6-centimeter LC backlit display for easy operation.
9. Canon PIXMA G3400 Printer
The Canon PIXMA is a convenient multifunctional device that combines a printer, scanner, and copier. The small size and strict design make the device suitable for a student since it consumes very little space.
A distinctive feature of the model is the front panel with transparent “windows” through which ink containers are visible. Continuous feed technology saves ink consumption. Besides, this printer is designed for multi-color and black-and-white printing large volumes.
The Fine printing system ensures an even distribution of colored pigment on paper. Thanks to the built-in WiFi module, the printer supports wireless printing. With the help of cloud services PIXMA Cloud Link and Google Cloud Print, you can print photos directly from Facebook and Instagram.
An essential feature of the model is the ability to connect with smartphones and tablets. Printing one photo from the network takes no more than 1 min. Copier and scanner work at the same speed.
What to Take Into Consideration When Buying a Printer
To make a wise and informed decision, there are factors that you need to take into consideration. I mean, there is no printer for all. Therefore, take time and think of what you are looking for and why to ensure that the one you buy meets your needs and preferences. This section will help you out and also suggest the best printer according to why you are purchasing the printer in the first and place and for what reason. Have a look!
The most important thing is to determine precisely how much and what exactly will have to be printed. The biggest problem is that at the beginning, no one usually knows what he wants from the printer. As a rule, an average student in 2 years uses one or two packs of paper.
This is somewhere 500-1000 sheets. You also need to determine if you are looking for color or black and white printer. After establishing the need, you can then go ahead and consider the following technical factors.
These are compact and inexpensive devices that print well both in black and white and in color. If you are going to print mostly photos, then it is better to take an inkjet printer. The printing technology consists of spraying drops of paint through the nozzles of the printer heads.
Cons of Inkjet Printers
- Cost of replacing the cartridge: The main disadvantage you will encounter but only some time is the cost of replacing the cartridge, which can be almost the same as the cost of a new printer. You can cheat this by filling the device with paint yourself, but several manufacturers put special chips on the cartridges that do not allow them to be used again, which means that you have to buy a new cartridge.
- Drying and blocking of print heads. To avoid this, print something regularly. The cost of printing is not that expensive since most come with as CISS (continuous feed system), which comes in handy for those who print a lot of photos.
The initial cost is higher than that of inkjets. However, the price of each printed page is very low. You do not have to refill the printer every month and a half since the average toner life is 1,000 pages. Printing is carried out with powder paint, which is contained in the toner. If you need to print a lot of reports, abstracts, and other black and white documents, then a laser printer is the most economical and least problematic solution.
You do not need to clean anything, and the pages are printed very quickly. There are color laser printers, but they are not suitable for photo printing since they transfer basic shades to paper. But with the printing of diagrams, graphs, and other simple illustrations, they will cope with a bang.
This uses the process of sublimation, the transmission of the ink from solid to gaseous state, which is then printed on the paper. The technology provides very accurate color reproduction but is expensive. This is an option for an enthusiastic photographer who wants to organize an entire studio for photo printing.
Color or Black and White?
Students and office workers usually deal with printing black and white documents. If you are in this category, a laser printer will come in handy. If you are going to print color images often, then it is more cost-effective to choose a color inkjet printer with CISS. Printing color is one of the most important parameters of the printer, so it is very important to think through what you will be printing before making the purchase.
Most non-commercial printers print on A4 paper, and more is not needed in 98% of cases. Therefore, it is not necessary to bother with this parameter unless you need to print large drawings. In this case, it is better to pay attention to printers that can print on A3 paper.
There are professional office printers that also print on A2 and A1 papers. Moreover, paper trays are also different. For a student, one that accommodates a small number of pages is suitable – 50-150, and for an office, it is better to choose a more spacious option.
If you are going to print a lot and constantly, then to save nerves and save time, it is better to take a device whose printing speed (measured in pages/minute) is higher. Even the simplest laser printer will not make you nervous – it prints very quickly. With inkjets, everything is less fast.
The fact that there are multifunction devices that can not only print but also copy and scan. These are such popular devices that when we talk about printers, often, we mean the printer + scanner + copier. Additional features include:
- Automatic two-sided printing is useful when printing large volumes, and there is no time to turn over the sheets all the time manually. Students, as a rule, need one-sided printing, and if that happens, you can turn the sheet several times and not overpay for this function.
- Ability to connect wireless networks. This is also a function for offices, although under certain conditions it will be useful for you as a student. Network printers do not connect to one specific computer, but an entire network, and you can print a document from any computer in it. Wireless connection via WiFi is also possible. If the printer and all network devices support this technology, you can print a document and photos, even from your smartphone.
- Fax is needed in the office, and not always, for students. So do not overpay for this unnecessary feature.
- Noise level: If the noise level is important, then pay attention to this parameter. As for manufacturers, Canon, HP, Xerox, Epson, and Samsung have long established themselves in the printer market, and their printers are relatively quiet.
Which Printer is Suitable for Whom?
The best printer for you should always be the model that fits your needs. Before you decide to buy a printer, you should know which models are suitable for whom what features are useful for your desired applications, and how it relates to the follow-up costs. To find out which printer is right for you, ask yourself how you want to use the device for the most part. It will help you determine the most suitable printing method for your purposes that your new printer should work with.
For Occasional Printers
If you do not have a specific purpose, but only occasionally want to print letters, simple graphics or even a photo, a cheap printer is the best choice for you. Here is the recommendation to resort to an inkjet printer in the lower price range, because these devices offer a decent quality for your purpose at a low price.
With regard to the printing speed and the follow-up costs, you also have to put up with a cheap inkjet printer. But this is not problematic at a low print volume. You can get faster results with a low-cost laser printer, which may also be suitable for you if you print very little and do not want to print photos. A simple black and white laser printer is also very cheap.
For Transverse Bed Average Printers
If you want to print regularly but do not want to print large volumes of paper, but occasionally want to print a photo on paper alongside documents, a mid-range inkjet printer is the best choice. Even special foils or CD and DVD labels can be printed well with an inkjet printer. However, you have to keep in mind that the cost of printing a high-quality photo is usually higher than that of images.
On the other hand, you are highly flexible and can bring high-quality prints to paper, textile, or labels. A laser printer is not an alternative for this type of task, especially since it delivers significantly worse results in the field of photo printing.
For Amateur Photographers and Image Printers
If you want to print photos of high quality, you should always resort to a photo printer. Here, high-quality inkjet models, as well as portable photo printers, which usually print by the thermal sublimation process, come in handy. Pay attention to the maximum possible final format, because this usually limits to postcard size, especially for portable photo printers, while full-fledged photo printers allow printouts up to DinA3.
Good inkjet photo printers often offer more than ten individual colors, resulting in better color mixing and better results. A laser printer is out of the question for photo prints, because the resolution is too low, the colors cannot be mixed, and no glossy photos are possible.
For Advanced Printers
The more you print and the more frequently you need to print or copy documents and letters, the sooner you should shift to a laser printer. These are fast printers that deliver durable and sharp results in text and graphics. Thanks to the low initial cost, even the purchase of an entry-level color laser printer is well worth it for a student. Currently, more and more LED printers are coming onto the market that works like laser printers, but are a bit cheaper and are just suit all students as laser printers.
One for All
Multifunction devices are equally suitable for use in the office and at school. They offer scanners, copiers, printers and often faxes in one. This saves you space and has everything in one device. They are very cheap as inkjet and laser models that print in black and white or color. The right choice depends on the number of pages you need to print. For photos, inkjet multifunction devices are generally suitable.
Useful Additional Equipment
- Suppose you want to print documents from sticks or SD cards. Photo printers with USB or SD card slots often allow the selection of images directly from the storage medium. Sometimes even via an integrated display.
- If you want to print from several computers, it makes sense to integrate the printer into your network. Depending on where the device is installed, it may be worth buying a WLAN-enabled device, which is not ideal for students.
- Depending on how much you print, it’s worth taking a look at the paper chutes or cassettes. Some cheap laser printers do not offer a paper cassette. Therefore printing a lot of documents or large files can be a bit tedious.
- The larger the data you print, the more likely it is to buy a device with its own processor and the most significant possible memory. It relieves the PC of arithmetic calculations during printing and leads to significantly faster results. Therefore, entry-level devices are not suitable for the frequent and extensive printing of large amounts of data.
- If you also use a scanner, you should consider whether the purchase of a combo unit is the best choice for you. As a result, you only need one device that you can use to print as well as scan. Also, a printer, including a scanner, makes it easier for you to do photocopying, by pressing a button. With the addition of a fax, you will even have a fully-fledged multifunction device that replaces three full devices.
- If you tend to buy a very affordable inkjet printer as an all-rounder, make sure that your color cartridge has its cartridge. Some cheap printers mix black with the available colors, so you lose a lot of colors when printing documents.
By now, you must be having an idea of the printer that is best to handle all of your printing needs as a student adequately. The most important thing when choosing the best printer for college students is to consider your needs. This is to ensure that you don’t overspend on unnecessary features.
However, if your line of study necessitates a top-notch printer, don’t feel the pinch when spending money on one since it will deliver results beyond your expectations.
After all, there is no need for spending money on a black and white printer when you need to print high definition diagrams, pictures, and images. There is no point wasting your money on a multifunctional printer when all you need is to print reports and assignments. Therefore, take your time, weigh your needs and options, and make a decision on that line.
I hope this guide contains all you need to know to make an informed decision. Happy printing!